Budding actress and singer Jacqueline Tiang has always been a shy person.
Which was why her decision to join beauty pageant Miss Astro Chinese International Pageant in 2016 came as a surprise to her family and friends.
“People said, ‘You’ve always been so shy and quiet and now you’re joining a pageant?’
“They were shocked especially when they saw me speak and perform on stage, ” the 27-year-old recounts to StarLifestyle.
Tiang placed second in the competition. Six months later, she would go on to surprise her loved ones even more when she quit her steady banking career and left her hometown Johor Baru to take a crack at show business in the country’s capital.
After getting her start on TV commercials, she made her acting debut in the 2017 local web series May I Love You.
Late last year, she dropped her first single Look At Me Now. The edgy dance number is a rather unexpected move in light of the ballad-skewed local music industry.
“I like surprising people. I want them to see another side of me, ” says the genteel and soft-spoken Tiang about Look At Me Now.
She reflects on reconciling her shy nature with her profession that constantly requires her to be in front of a crowd.
“When I step in front of the camera, whether as an actress or a singer, automatically that shyness is gone. I don’t see myself as Jacqueline. I see myself transforming into someone else.”
Tiang is going from strength to strength, working on a mainland China web movie next.
1. How did your family react when you told them you wanted to pursue a career in entertainment?
My parents were worried for me. Initially, they weren’t supportive of the idea of getting into this industry. It’s not as straightforward and stable as a banking career. You don’t know if and when your next job is going to come.
But I felt passionate about it and decided to take a chance.
2. What were your early days in showbiz like?
When I first moved to Kuala Lumpur, I stayed with a relative. Of course, I couldn’t stay with them for long and had to learn to be independent.
It was difficult at the start. Although I’d get jobs working as a talent for TV commercials, it’s not consistent. Sometimes, I would get a lot of jobs, sometimes, there would be none.
But after a while, I got used to it and I could predict the “dry” seasons, and make the necessary arrangements.
So when I have no jobs, I’d work on improving myself, taking acting and singing courses.
Thankfully, I couldsustain myself during these times, with the money I saved up when I was working at the bank.
3. Describe your debut single Look At Me Now.
Look At Me Now is about my personal growth. You can even see this reflected in the music video’s imagery.
It begins with me looking like a princess at first, dressed in a gown, symbolising the perception people may have of me due to my pageant background.
But then I change into all these different outfit styles, which reflects my journey towards discovering my unique self.
I co-wrote the song and produced the music video.
Taking up the responsibility of a producer was also a journey of growth in itself.
Besides learning what goes on behind the scenes, I had to become more thick-skinned, approaching people to help make the music video a reality.
4. Did you make any resolutions for 2020?
For 2020, I will still focus on my career. But I’d also like to spend more time learning more about music on my own.
I’m also looking at taking up a business administration course on the side.
5. What are your plans for Chinese New Year?
I will be travelling back to Johor Baru to be with my parents and meet my relatives. Every year, our family tradition is to have a steamboat and lou sang together. This year, we are also arranging a family trip to the beach.
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